I had the absolute pleasure of visiting the studio of Nancy King, First Nations (Potawatomi and Chippewa) artist and all-around-maker from Rama First Nation. Nancy's Anishinabee name is Ogimaakwebnes, which means Chief Lady Bird, and her practice weaves together contemporary painting techniques with traditional Indigenous craft materials to navigate the intricacy of identity, representation and intergenerational knowledge. We sat down and had a thought-provoking conversation about empowering our youth, the power of sisterhood and decolonizing through art, collaboration and healing.
Back-to-school studio invasion alert! Last month, I had the pleasure of sitting down with emerging illustrator, designer and art director Maria José Arias for coffee and conversation. Born and raised in Cali, Colombia, this spirited creative is currently living in Toronto and studying Advertising and Digital Media Studies at OCAD University. Amongst numerous plants, framed art prints and an teal vinyl record player, we chatted about: female objectification in mainstream media, the intersecting roles of art and advertising, and navigating the 'latina' label.
Kendra Yee's rainbow space tornado reveals itself in seconds as you climb the stairs leading into White House Studio Project in Kensington Market. Greeted by remnants of a full-wall mural from her latest solo exhibition "My Best Friend.......Felon", I turn left and end up face-to-face with an overload of baby monster ceramics and printer-size papers scribbled with marker, gel pens and every other art supply imaginable. We sit down with the Toronto-based freelance illustrator to chat about multiple realities, rollercoasting through styles and zine culture in the city.
A glimpse of Jamiyla Lowe's paintings is like stepping into a mythical world where quirky skeletal creatures dance in tropical caves and swing amongst tiger lilies without a care in the world. Born in Montréal, Jamiyla has developed an extensive portfolio overflowing with screenprinted bestiaries of magical beings, surreal circus acts and bizarre dreamscapes. I sat down with her to chat about freelancing, the freedom to experiment and challenging the gatekeepers of academic and commercial art.
Trudy Erin Elmore's screen-bejewelled studio is scattered with plants, flowers, books and assorted animal skulls. Raised in Kootenay Mountain Range in BC, the talented new media artist now finds herself based in Toronto and has had her work both exhibited nationally and published internationally. Our conversation extended for a couple of hours, beginning with a demonstration of the technical/creative process behind CINEMA 4D and weaving through contemplations on life, death and the intersections of spiritual transcendence and technological evolution. We chat about retiring the paintbrush, challenging binaries and freedom IRL.
Enter the multi-coloured, post-apocalyptic spacescaps of Toronto-based artist Christina Mazzulla. Influenced by the pressures and anxiety of rapid urbanization, Christina creates vivid layered paintings of barren land: an alternate universe of aerosol mountains and gradient suns. Not long ago, I payed her a studio visit and we had a stimulating conversation about urban art, collective evolution and coming to terms with one's ego.
Along with friends and fellow Latinx artists Maria Dana Prieto (ARG) and Jessica De Vittoris (MEX), we organized a stand-in at OCAD University to reject the silence against gender-based violence to stand together in solidarity with #NosotrasParamos.